Two protesters glued themselves to a prized Pablo Picasso painting at the National Gallery of Victoria to draw attention to environmental causes.
Tony Gleeson, 59, a retired teacher and grandfather of five turned Extinction Rebellion Australia (ERA) protester, glued his hands to the Picasso Massacre in Korea frame at the National Gallery of Victoria on Sunday.
The painting last sold for $179 million ($280 million Australian) in 2015.
Now, the two Extinction Rebellion activists involved in a “dangerous and ugly” weather stunt that put a priceless Picasso painting at risk have spoken out about the bizarre action, with one admitting he would “absolutely” do it again.
On Monday, Gleeson said he had no regrets about his actions and would gladly do a similar stunt again.
The duo’s hands were safely removed from the protective perspex and there was no reported damage to the work. The purpose of the stunt was to raise awareness about the global impacts of climate change.
Here’s what he told a local radio host Neil Mitchell:
“The decision was not made lightly. It was carefully planned and we were more than two involved. There was a lot of security there, so we took that into account, we prepared long and hard for this. This is something quite serious, we are facing a climatic and ecological emergency.”
However, Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Catherine Strong apologized for the risky stunt on Monday, calling it “inconvenient.”
Strong told ABC Melbourne radio:
“People can believe we’re idiots all they want, and maybe we are idiots. Who knows? We admit that this is the sort of thing that is inconvenient for people. We don’t like doing this sort of thing to people – we feel bad about it, and we are so sorry.”
The two protesters, Gleeson, and a 49-year-old woman were arrested by police but released without charge on Sunday.
Gleeson said he “expects” that he and other protesters will be charged over the protest that put a multimillion-dollar painting at risk, saying all the finer details of their plot will be “revealed in court.”
“We accept responsibility for what we did … we will do what it takes, non-violently, to get where we need to be,” Gleeson said.
However, the two protesters, Gleeson, and a 49-year-old woman after being arrested by the police were released without charge on Sunday.
In 1986, Pablo Picasso’s The Weeping Woman painting was stolen from the same gallery and later found by police in a locker after an anonymous tip-off.
Watch the video below for more details: